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Serious How Should We Rebrand Ours RCs and NCs? People's Association And John Tan Wants Your Feedback!



SINGAPORE - On Oct 28, 2023, hordes of tweens dressed as vampires and other movie monsters descended onto landed homes in Jalan Pari Dedap and condos in Tanah Merah Kechil.

This would have been unremarkable, given that it was Halloween weekend, except for one thing: a quarter of the roughly 800 participants at the community event were HDB dwellers.

In Mountbatten that same evening, more than 500 families congregated in the pavilion at Block 90 Jalan Satu, where they were treated to stage performances and kids went trick-or-treating with their parents. For some of the residents at the newly completed Dakota Breeze Build-to-Order project, it was their first time interacting with their neighbours.

The organisers of both events were the estates’ Residents’ Networks (RNs): a concept launched in 2018 to meld together residents’ committees (RCs) and neighbourhood committees (NCs).

Announcing this, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the point was to remove the distinction that RCs serve public housing residents, while NCs cater to those in private estates.

The hope was that the rebranding would push grassroots leaders to pool their resources and reach Singaporeans more effectively, strengthening social cohesion.

“If we treat (RCs and NCs) the same, if we call them the same, then maybe it will encourage residents from public and private estates to mix more freely and participate in community activities together,” he said.

The renaming came five years after the People’s Association (PA) undertook a major revamp of RCs in 2013 to attract more residents to use their facilities, including for private functions such as birthday parties. About $44 million was spent to spruce up and expand some 460 of the 572 RCs across the island.

Changing names has changed mindsets: grassroots leaders
Within the alphabet soup of grassroots organisations under the PA, RNs are the most ground level of the entities.

While Citizens’ Consultative Committees are the apex grassroots body in each constituency and Community Club Management Committees plan and organise community clubs’ activities, RNs are run by resident volunteers living in the area and serving their immediate community.

In his 2018 speech, PM Lee summed up the twin goals of the RNs: to create friendships between neighbours and hence strengthen the community “glue”, and to serve as a bridge between people and the Government by helping to explain national policies and returning ground feedback.

To stay relevant, RCs and NCs need to not only work more closely, but also attract more young residents to participate and join as volunteers, he said.

Grassroots leaders interviewed by The Straits Times said the 2018 rebranding has helped to change mindsets and spark fresh ideas by bringing together volunteers from private and public estates.

Mr Jason Ong, 40, who is vice-chairman of Zhenghua-Segar Meadows RN, said in its previous incarnation his local RC and NC used to work in silos to organise parallel events such as Christmas celebrations.

Under the RN system, they have conceived new activities together, such as a Neighbourliness Carnival in November, in which residents took part in games and sports. Today, more private estate residents are attending his RN events, such as durian parties, said Mr Ong.

Agreeing, vice-chairwoman of Dakota Breeze RN Amatul Jameel Suhani Sujari said her committee has been organising more novel events in recent months, such as the Halloween Spook Fest put together jointly by the Dakota Breeze, Dakota Crescent and Tanjong Katong RNs.


“The RN (set-up) blurs the line between private and public estate residents and builds a more inclusive environment,” said Madam Suhani, 55. “We are able to widen our outreach to all residents with a broader range of activities, and both sides have voices on the committee to champion everyone’s interest.”

Responding to queries, a PA spokesman said there are now 944 RCs, NCs and RNs across the island, with over 22,000 serving volunteers. Of these, more than 600, or 65 per cent, have either converted to or been newly set up as RNs.

Up to RCs/NCs whether they want to rebrand
A check by ST showed there was no regional uniformity as to whether an area is served by an RC/NC or RN, although new estates since 2018 come under RNs. For instance, Tampines has all RNs, while Marine Parade has a mix of RCs, NCs and RNs. The 10 zones in Woodgrove are evenly split between RNs and RCs.

RCs and NCs are still sporadically converting to RNs. In December, a notice published in the Government Gazette announced that eight RCs had been renamed to RNs, while a separate notice in January said two more RCs, one in Jurong Central and the other in Bukit Purmei, had made the switch.

PA’s spokesman said the main reason RCs and NCs have not switched over is sentimental attachment to the “RC” and “NC” in their names, which have more than 40 years and 20 years of history, respectively.

From the inception of the RN scheme, PM Lee acknowledged that existing centres have heritage and identity they may want to preserve, and that it was up to them when to switch over. Even so, he encouraged those that did not switch to collaborate more so they may one day be comfortable switching or merging into RNs.

PA said many RCs and NCs were occupied with helping residents during the pandemic, such as doubling as mask distribution centres, and were unable to plan joint events together due to safe management measures. This meant collaboration – and with it a greater comfort level with reorganisation – gathered pace again only after Covid-19 became endemic. There is no deadline for conversion to RNs, added the spokesman.

To be sure, a name change alone does not result in more activities that promote social mixing among residents. Grassroots leaders said not all RNs have a ready mix of private and public estate volunteers, partly due to the home types in their precinct.

Thomson CC set to reopen in 2025 after new contractor takes over renovation work
Ms Dalveer Kaur from Fengshan Maple RN shared that her committee comprises 19 private estate residents, and works with Fengshan Cedar RN, which has only HDB residents on its committee, to organise events.

Both RNs teamed up with Fengshan Rosewood RN, whose committee members reside in the area’s private estates, to pull off the Halloween event in which a quarter of participants were HDB dwellers.

Ms Kaur said such collaboration is a big change from when she served on two NCs previously, which organised activities only for their private estate residents.

“Since becoming an RN, we have worked with other RNs as a cluster to pool together our resources and budgets,” she said.

Perennial challenge to pull in the young
While the activities have changed, today’s RNs still rely on a tried-and-true strategy it has used since the days of lantern festivals and taekwondo classes: attract the children, and the parents will come.

During the Covid-19 pandemic when working-from-home became the default, RNs and RCs set up more study corners and workspaces for their residents.

After pandemic restrictions were lifted in August 2022, RNs and NCs have partnered with more than 190 Management Corporation Strata Titles to organise water carnivals in condominiums that drew over 28,000 residents.

Close to 200 movie bus screenings were organised in 2023, which engaged about 62,000 residents. One such screening co-organised by Havelock View RC and Beo Crescent RN in March 2023 attracted more than 1,000 residents from HDB and private estates, said PA.


As for PM Lee’s other exhortation to draw in new blood to serve in RNs, pioneering grassroots leader Stephen Puhaindran said that has become more difficult over the years.

The 87-year-old retired educator, who has been involved with Marine Parade grassroots since they began in 1977, said professionals today are working longer hours and expected to be constantly on call, leaving little time for volunteering.

He added: “There should be a flexible system allowing volunteers to take time off when needed, and then returning to serve when they can.”

RNs to get smart
Greater flexibility will likely be a key factor as PA makes further upgrades to RNs and RCs.

More than 700 RNs and RCs are being converted into “smart” centres with remotely-controlled digital door access and smart switches so that people can book and access facilities even when the centre manager is off duty.

This will give residents a wider range of dates and times for them to hold their functions and create more opportunities to work with community partners, said PA. About 200 centres will be upgraded each year, with the project expected to be finished by June 2027.

This builds on the $44-million refurbishment in 2013, which went towards maintenance, improvement to RCs’ facades, and the addition of equipment and furnishings. For instance, some RCs added simple gym equipment to make it more convenient for seniors to join in exercise programmes with their neighbours.


decade since the revamp, although it did not provide any figures.

To better reach residents about their offerings, the traditional void-deck noticeboard is today complemented by more than 400 social media pages set up by RCs, NCs and RNs, as well as over 400 messaging groups on WhatsApp and Telegram. Smart RNs and RCs will go a step further with digital noticeboards, which will display electronic posters and notices prepared by a centralised content-management system.

The new upgrades may yet bring in residents who, to date, have not visited their RNs. Whampoa resident Andrew Yeo, 45, said he is yet to be interested in the programmes in his RC, but his curiosity has been piqued.

“Given that I am a smart-home enthusiast, I should go in and check that out myself if it becomes a smart centre, and perhaps help make some recommendations too,” said the strategy director with a sustainability consultancy.


As long as totally sever and remove the PA's link to PAP can already. After that they want to rebrand whatever ranjiao ways also can.